rain
Thursday May 28th, 2015 2:12AM

Tests for chemicals delayed in Ga. chemical plant fire

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) A fire last month that consumed a metro Atlanta chemical plant burned for at least two hours before checks began for dangerous emissions and four hours before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began more extensive testing, according to a newspaper report published Monday. <br /> <br /> Officials said they didn't detect toxic fumes, but experts noted chemicals are most likely to escape when a fire first begins and the delays could have allowed chemicals to escape, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. <br /> <br /> "We honestly don't know what chemicals were released," said Battalion Chief Scott Demkowski, who coordinated the Cobb County fire department's hazmat team during the May 23 fire at the Amrep warehouse in Marietta. <br /> <br /> In addition, the Atlanta newspaper along with The Marietta Daily Journal reported Monday that officials are investigating a fish kill downstream from the warehouse. Georgia Environmental Protection Division spokesman Kevin Chambers told the Atlanta newspaper that three to five miles of nearby Sope Creek had been contaminated, probably by a combination of plant chemicals and firefighting foam. <br /> <br /> Meanwhile, investigators have yet to determine what caused the May 23 fire and have ruled out arson. <br /> <br /> "The Amrep facility was full of extremely toxic chemicals, like heptane, sulfuric acid and toluene, all of which are hazardous to our health and become even more dangerous when they catch on fire," Colleen Kiernan, director of the Sierra Club's Georgia chapter, said in an email to the Atlanta newspaper. <br /> <br /> "Right now, we don't know what happened and whether Marietta residents were exposed to dangerous chemicals." <br /> <br /> The newspaper noted part of the reason air monitoring didn't start sooner was that firefighters were more worried about nearby heptane and butane pressurized tanks exploding. The fire burned for roughly eight hours with multiple explosions shooting flames hundreds of feet into the air. <br /> <br /> ``The EPA and the police department tested and confirmed that the fumes from the fire were not toxic, and we have no reason to believe any differently,'' said Bob Collins, vice president of Zep Inc., which bought Amrep in 2010. <br /> <br /> Authorities said crews immediately went door-to-door notifying businesses within a mile of the warehouse to evacuate and cleared out a nearby soccer arena and sports fields. Authorities decided not to notify residents in a wider radius of the fire after teams with air monitors didn't detect a threat two hours after the fire began, the newspaper said. <br /> <br /> Stephen Ball, the EPA's on-scene coordinator, told the newspaper that if toxic substances at the plant had been released, he would have detected them even four hours later. EPA officials said the response time was typical, but others said the best time to start testing is as soon as possible. <br /> <br /> ``You want to get the measurements very early,'' said Albert Moussa, president of BlazeTech Corp., an engineering consulting firm in Massachusetts. ``The sooner the better, obviously.''
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US stocks post sixth straight year of gains
U.S. stocks ended a strong 2014 with moderate declines Wednesday.
4:43PM ( 4 months ago )
Palestinians push ahead in pursuit of war crimes charges against Israel
Stung by a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council, the Palestinians announced Wednesday that they joined the International Criminal Court to pursue war crimes charges against Israel.
1:57PM ( 4 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 4 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 4 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 4 months ago )
Local/State News
Charter nears deal for Time Warner Cable
Charter Communications Inc. is close to buying Time Warner Cable for about $55 billion, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
9:45PM ( 2 days ago )
UNG plans to occupy top floor of Cumming City Hall
Due to program and enrollment growth at its Cumming Campus, the University of North Georgia plans to lease the top floor of the Cumming City Hall for its Master of Business Administration and continuing education and professional development programs, that according to Associate Vice President of University Relations Kate Maine.
By Submitted
6:16PM ( 6 days ago )
Flowery Branch moves forward with downtown redevelopment
The Flowery Branch City Council has given approval to start the pre-design work on a redesign of the city's downtown area.
7:38PM ( 1 week ago )
Hall Co. fire services promotes first female Chief Officer
Hall County Fire Services has promoted Captain Christie Grice to Battilion Chief of Business Services, the first promotion of a female to a Chief Officer position in the department's history.
6:24PM ( 1 week ago )
Hall Sheriff discusses law enforcement in South Hall, nation
With two-thirds of Hall County’s population living south of Oakwood (according to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce) the South Hall Business Coalition wanted to hear from Sheriff Gerald Couch and tour the new Sheriff’s Office headquarters building that opened in their part of the county in November 2014.
11:44AM ( 1 week ago )